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Search for missing flight MH370 ends after three years with no answers

File photo of a Malaysia Airlines B777-200ER aircraft. Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
File photo of a Malaysia Airlines B777-200ER aircraft. Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
Nearly three years after Malayasia Airlines flight MH 370 went missing on March 8, 2014 with 239 people on board, while on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, the underwater search for the aircraft was suspended today with no answers to the mystery surrounding the disappearance of the plane.
 
The decision to call off the search was announced in a joint statement by Malaysian Minister of Transport Liow Tiong Lai; Australian Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester and Chinese Minister of Transport Li Xiaopeng.
 
"Today the last search vessel has left the underwater search area. Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has not been located in the 120,000 square-kilometre underwater search area in the southern Indian Ocean," they said.
 
"Despite every effort using the best science available, cutting edge technology, as well as modelling and advice from highly skilled professionals who are the best in their field, unfortunately, the search has not been able to locate the aircraft.
 
"Accordingly, the underwater search for MH370 has been suspended," the three ministers said.
 
The statement said the decision to suspend the underwater search had not been taken lightly nor without sadness. 
 
"It is consistent with decisions made by our three countries in the July 2016 Ministerial Tripartite meeting in Putrajaya Malaysia.
 
"Whilst combined scientific studies have continued to refine areas of probability, to date no new information has been discovered to determine the specific location of the aircraft.
 
"We have been overwhelmed by the commitment and dedication shown by the hundreds of people involved in the search, which has been an unprecedented challenge. Their tireless work has continued to improve our knowledge of the search area and has been critical in our efforts to locate the aircraft. We would like to reiterate our utmost appreciation to the many nations that have provided expertise and assistance since the early days of this unfortunate tragedy.
 
"Today’s announcement is significant for our three countries, but more importantly for the family and friends of those on board the aircraft. We again take this opportunity to honour the memory of those who have lost their lives and acknowledge the enormous loss felt by their loved ones.
 
"We remain hopeful that new information will come to light and that at some point in the future the aircraft will be located," the statement added.
 
On January 29 2015, the Government of Malaysia had officially declared the disappearance of the aircraft as an accident and that all 239 people on board were presumed to have lost their lives.
 
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The declaration was meant to pave the way for the airline to move ahead with the compensation process even as the search for the aircraft continued.
 
The passengers on board included five Indians and a Canadian of Indian origin. In all, the passengers were of 14 different nationalities. All crew on board were Malaysians.
 
The passengers included 153 from China/Taiwan (including one infant), 38 from Malaysia, 5 Indians, 7 Indonesians, 6 Australians, four from France, three (including an infant) from the United States, two each from Ukraine, Canada and New Zealand, and one each from Russia, Italy, the Netherlands and Austria.
 
The Malaysia authorities had earlier announced that they had concluded that the Boeing 777-2H6ER aircraft had veered off its flight path and exhausted its fuel over a defined area of the southern Indian Ocean. They had also concluded that the aircraft is located on the sea floor close to that defined area. 
 
The Boeing aircraft, with registration 9M-MRO, lost contact with Air 
Traffic Control after waypoint IGARI during a transition of airspace between Malaysia and Vietnam whilst en-route to Beijing. There were 227 passengers, 2 flight crew and 10 cabin crew on board.
 
The search and rescue mission at one stage involved 160 assets, including 65 aircraft and 95 vessels as well as experts from 25 countries, including Australia, China, India, Japan, Indonesia, New Zealand, the UAE, the US, South Korea and Vietnam.
 
The search and rescue phase was carried out from 8 March 2014 to 28 April 2014 where the search area covered the South China Sea, the Straits of Malacca, the Andaman Sea and the southern Indian Ocean.
 
Following the announcement by the Australian Government on 28 April 2014, the search and rescue phase transitioned to a search and recovery phase. 
 
On 28 April 2014, the search coordinated by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) moved to an underwater phase led by the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB). Malaysia and China sent their respective experts and assets to assist JACC and ATSB in this phase.
 
This phase of the search included the use of the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) and bathymetry survey capabilities. 
 
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